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Ludus Latrunculorum


In this tutorial we bring back an ancient board game called Ludus Latrunculorum. This game is believed to date as far back as 116 BCE. It is believed to be a newer version of an earlier board game. As for the rules, there is much debate by historians as to the specific details. There are many different translations, but for our purposes we will be utilizing the set of rules laid out by Kowalski.

The rules are simple. You start with a 12 by 8 board and 13 pieces for each player. There are 12 regular pieces and another piece called the dux. Each piece can move any number of squares either horizontally or vertically as long as it is unobstructed by another piece. To capture a piece you must place two of your pieces adjacent to each other around the piece. However, if your opponent voluntarily moves his piece in between two of yours it is not captured. A piece can be captured in a corner if you place two pieces on both sides of the piece.

The game is won when the dux becomes immobilized. The dux cannot be captured, only trapped by all four sides. If a player's dux cannot move at all that player loses. If the dux is unable to be captured with the current number of pieces then the player with the most pieces wins. 

For an in depth description of the rules with pictures go here.

There is also a video tutorial on how to make it and play it at the bottom of this page.



Ludus Latrunculorum


Drawing the outlines of the board

First, start by creating your board. Find a piece of wood or foam board that is suitable and trace out a 12 by 8 board that is gridded.


Painting the main part of the board

Next, you're going to want to paint your board. Use any color you like. For this tutorial I made the board red with a black background. Depending on what kind of paint you use, you may be able to still see your gridlines. If not you can always go back and trace over them again once the paint dries.


Drawing out the grid with a gold paint pen

Now, you can paint your grid lines. For this project I used a gold paint pen, which is good for making straight lines. However, you can use a regular paint brush, but it may be more difficult to keep the lines straight and even.


Completed and half molded piece

Time to make the pieces. For this tutorial I used regular clay to make the pieces, however you can use whatever you want. I made the regular pieces to resemble checkers. All you need to do is take a little clay and roll it into a ball. Then press down on the top and bottom with a flat surface gently until you get the right height and width of the piece. For the dux use a similar technique except shape the top of the piece from a ball of clay and then press the bottom against a table to flatten it.


Painting all the pieces

All you need to do now is paint your pieces. For this tutorial I used the traditional colors of black and white. This step takes some time, because you can only paint one side of the piece at a time and you may need to add several layers of paint in order to solidify the color.


Now, you have the finished product and it's time to play! You can also watch the video.



Hnefatafl - the ancient Viking Board game

This game is also called "The Kings Table". I show you how to make this ancient viking board game and I show you how to play it. Full tutorial with an included video: How to make and Play Hnefatafl



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